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I Don’t Make the Rules by Matthew Barrett | Word Riot
Flash Fiction

March 15, 2015      

I Don’t Make the Rules by Matthew Barrett

On June 4th, 2014, William Smart won a radio contest to see a little-known band called Cat’s Redemption and two weeks later lost his faith in God. Cat’s Redemption has canceled its North Carolina tour, said the radio man who’d taken William’s call, after drummer Clive Sturbach broke his wrist in a dirt bike accident.
      “I’m sure they’ll reschedule,” I told him, and that’s when he mentioned his faith.
      I’d known William since the second grade. That year, his mother left for a man she’d met in Little Rock and his father started drinking. Three months later, his sister, Melanie, pushed their little brother, Jude, off a flight of stairs, paralyzing him from the waist down, and the following day his grandparents, while driving to church, died in an unexpected April blizzard.
      But William had never cried—at least in front of me—until the day Cat’s Redemption canceled. Not after the principal expelled him from school or when Jude died of internal complications. And certainly not when his mother came crawling back, begging for forgiveness, or when his father accepted and drove off with her, never to be seen again.
      “I should have known,” said William. “That something would interfere.”
      One day I called the station, and the radio man picked up. He explained there was nothing they could do to change it. No replacement prizes or future tickets. I told him William’s story, but after a moment, the man just sighed.
      “Listen kid, I don’t make the rules.”
      I waited for him to go on, but only silence followed.
      “Can I talk to someone who does?” I asked.
      This time, the radio man laughed. “Hey,” he said, “things happen.” And as the dial tone kicked in, I wondered why, of all things, did I tell myself he’s wrong?

headshot - BarrettAbout the author:

Matthew Barrett is a 2011 graduate of Gettysburg College and a second year MFA Fiction candidate at UNC Greensboro. He lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and his work has appeared in Wigleaf, Timber, and Appalachian Journal.

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